A father and daughter turned their tassels together, both graduating with honors Saturday from a New York college.
In 2008, Cesar Galarza moved his family to New York from Puerto Rico, WABC reported. He worked as a welder and provided support to parishioners at West Side Church, where he currently is pastor.
Over time, he learned how to speak English. He dreamed of becoming a social worker and seemed adept to the work.
“I didn’t think I was college material,” he said. “I had to learn to write in English. But I also questioned if I was too old to go to college. I wondered: Have I lost my chance?”
Despite his doubts, Galarza, 41, went back to school with some encouragement from his daughter, Clarimar, 21, who was studying art education at Buffalo State College.
He got his high school equivalency degree and an associate degree before transferring to Buffalo State College in the fall 2019 semester.
He enjoyed their commute to campus and meeting his daughter at school for lunch. They took two classes together last summer.
“We spent some of the difficult days of the pandemic watching black-and-white movies together and talking about them,” Clarimar Galarza said.
They are grateful to have been able to support each other, especially during such challenging times.
“If we got tired or felt like it was all too much, we’d talk through our assignments and everything,” she said. “We knew we weren’t alone. We knew we could overcome anything.”
Now, they are both graduating with honors. Their commencement was Saturday.
“It was fantastic to go to school with my daughter,” Cesar Galarza said.
He plans to get a graduate degree in social work at the University of Buffalo. She is also planning to get a master’s degree.